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July 2018, Volume 24, Number 3

Florida, Southeast

Fast-food chain Wendy's has refused to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fast Food Program, which requires buyers of Florida tomatoes to pay a premium for the tomatoes that they buy, and requires growers to pass this premium on to pickers. Instead, Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's in Spring 2018 announced that it would buy only greenhouse tomatoes that are picked when they are ripe; Florida tomatoes are picked green and ripened with ethylene.

Florida's Constitution Revision Commission in April 2018 rejected proposed constitutional amendment 6010 on a 24-12 vote that would have required Florida businesses to verify the immigration status of new employees using a state system rather than the federal E-Verify system. Farmers opposed the amendment. Paul DiMare, known as "Mr. Tomato," said the state has a 35 to 40 percent shortage of farm labor and a state version of E-Verify would worsen the labor shortage.

Georgia. ?J.C. Castro Harvesting of Vidalia was fined $207,500 and debarred from the H-2A program for three years for a range of violations, including not providing H-2A workers with food or cooking facilities and not adhering to the terms of the job order that Castro submitted to DOL. Castro provided 150 H-2A workers to Scott Farms in Brinson.

Dickey Farms hires 60 H-2A workers to harvest peaches in middle Georgia, as does Lane Southern Orchards, operations that also attract tourists. The H-2A workers earn the AEWR of $10.50 an hour in 2018; they average 10 bushels an hour while picking. Dickey selects only rural workers in Jalisco who do not drink alcohol, and says that their isolated housing in Georgia keeps the H-2A workers out of trouble.

North Carolina. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee in November 2017 challenged a state law in federal court that bars agricultural employers from deducting union dues from worker paychecks and remitting them to unions, forcing unions to collect dues from members in other ways. FLOC said that most of its North Carolina members are H-2A guest workers from Mexico who do not have US bank accounts, making it hard for them to send dues to FLOC via wire transfers or checks.

FLOC is trying to persuade Reynolds American to negotiate a contract that would set wages and working conditions for workers on farms that grow its tobacco. Reynolds American has refused, prompting FLOC to mount boycotts of VUSE e-cigarettes in April 2018.